width=305Prices of single-family homes rose in January for the eighth straight month and the annual rate moved the closest it has been to an increase in three years, Standard & Poor's/Case Shiller home price indexes showed on Tuesday.

The S&P composite index of 20 metropolitan areas unexpectedly rose by 0.3 percent, seasonally adjusted, matching the December increase.

On an unadjusted basis, prices declined 0.4 percent in January. S&P has said that foreclosures can skew the seasonal adjustments.

A 0.3 percent drop for the adjusted and a 0.2 percent decline for the unadjusted index were the median forecasts from Reuters surveys.

On an annual basis, however, the 20-city price index fell 0.7 percent while the 10-city index was unchanged, S&P said. A 0.8 percent decline was the median forecast in the Reuters survey.

(Reporting by Lynn Adler; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)